Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 15, 2018

Bearing the burden

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

What happens when you don’t build enough housing?  Low income renters bear the brunt of the burden.  From City Lab:

For six years, the National Low Income Housing Coalition has released an annual report calculating the discrepancy between available affordable housing units and renters who earn below the poverty line or 30 percent of the area median. Last year, they found that for every 100 households categorized as extremely low income (ELI), only 35 affordable rental homes are available—a shortage of over 7 million affordable and available homes. That same figure stands today.

Part of this shortage is caused by an influx of higher income households into more affordable homes: Almost half of the affordable rental units are occupied by families that earn above the poverty line. As incomes get higher, cumulative shortages get less pronounced. Households that earn less than 50 percent AMI have 56 affordable and available rental homes; those below 80 percent have 93.


California, home of high-earning tech workers and ballooning rents, has 22 affordable and available units per 100 extremely low income (ELI) renter households.

Naturally these data points mean nothing if you are comfortably housed and you really don’t care if other people are struggling to find or remain housed.


“The problem is not that low-income people aren’t working hard enough,” said Diane Yentel, the president and CEO of NLIHC. “The problem, rather, is that many jobs don’t pay enough for low-income people to afford to pay the rent.”

That’s why so many low-income American renters are considered cost-burdened—9.7 million ELI renters spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent; of those, 8 million are considered severely cost burdened, forced to spend more than half.

Those burdens often manifest physically. When families are forced to make budget trade-offs, they spend less on food and transportation; and way less on healthcare for seniors and kids. That’s not to mention the psychological toll that housing instability itself takes—and the harmful cycle of eviction that starts with a few unpaid bills and can spiral into extended periods of homelessness.



  1. It’s human nature somehow for people to feel they worked uniquely hard for what they have and somehow deserve it more than others. And also to tend to consider other people’s struggles as personal failings as opposed to societal.

    It takes some introspection in areas ranging from luck of birth parents to the help of society in general around them to realize how lucky one is to have what they do and how little of what one has is due to their own individual efforts and choices.

    Comment by Spanky McDoogle (@SpankyMcDoogle) — March 15, 2018 @ 1:29 pm

  2. It’s a damn shame Suzanne Lindsey isn’t come here to scold us about this! I guess we’ll just have to settle for the usual suspects and their “well reasoned” arguments.

    Comment by Rod — March 15, 2018 @ 2:09 pm

    • Dammit! “isn’t here,” or “doesn’t come here,” not “isn’t come here.”

      Comment by Rod — March 15, 2018 @ 2:10 pm

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